CULTURE

Jogo

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Two years ago this month, around this time. It may have been later in the month. I don’t know, don’t ask me these things… Anyway, two years ago I made a decision. I was going to play capoeira. I was adamant and nothing anyone said would deter me. What I felt was a powerful need. Something that I knew I could not turn my back on. There really was no choice, I was a flame about to merge with a wildfire. You see, capoeira is something that fits in with the manner in which I choose to live my life and at that time, I was really in the beginning of my journey. At 24 I was a late bloomer in this whole adulthood situation, but the Universe would conspire to bring it all together so I could choose the correct direction at the crossroad.

When I was seven I was living in the Kendlands on southwest 88th street in Miami, Florida. I was there with my father and my mother, it was the first apartment we got after moving to Miami from Ayiti. When we had first arrived, we stayed with a cousin of my mother’s. It was a two bedroom with two bathrooms. Not very big, but it was a single family and it was home. I can still picture it in my mind.

We had cable and I remember one day I was watching HBO, probably a Saturday or Sunday, and this movie came on. Only the Strong starring Mark Dacascos. Your typical campy mid-90s movie with an obvious plot and questionable music. But, I’m gonna tell you this, it was the first time I saw capoeira. It was the first time I saw something that lodged in my soul so fuckin’ deep that it would come to fruition even after 20 years. It lit a small flame, a candle when it reaches the end of its wick. It would take some serious life experience and navigational choices to get to where I would finally begin to learn this art form.

After coming home from California and spending about a year starting school and all that jazz, I come to this point in my life where I made this decision. I looked online to find a school that was close to me. Most of them were either in Miami Beach or up in Broward and I was not going to drive all the way out there. Luckily, there was one just outside of Coral Gables, still some distance but not too much. I called the school and spoke to Professora India and then went to go check out a class. I remember sitting there and watching them train, thinking to myself,”I want this, I need this!”

I believe it was about a week later that I started going to classes, I must have trained about a month before I had to stop going in order to handle transportation and money issues. You wanna know what I did? I bought a damn scooter. A 50cc mobilèt. I tell you what, I was not worried about accumulating cool points with other motorists on the road, I was worried about going back to the academia to train. So in beginning of January 2013, I went back to capoeira. It was four months until the batizado, a yearly event when you bring together everything you’ve been doing for that year and possibly change your cordão.

I was training HARD. I had school, work, and capoeira. I would leave my house to get to work by 05:30 and would not get home until about 23:00. I was determined and I had the motivation, the drive, and the desire to push myself through the fatigue.

I was also studying capoeira. I bought a book from India and I found documentaries online. I was obssesed, every waking moment was filled with thoughts about capoeira. The Africans brought their culture with them through the depths of the depravity of slavery and maintained it. They honored their Ancestors and passed down a philosophy of movement, a music, a way of life that would bring me from the deep places of my own melancholy and darkness. What I learned in these books would lead me deeper into the Jogo, the Game. Yet, I was only at the beginning. Even now, two years later, I am only barely past the surface of the deep wide ocean that is capoeira.

The roda, Portuguese for wheel, is where capoeira is played. On one end is the batteria, with the instruments that define the space. The music that is played sets the tone, the songs that are sung tell you about what is happening, the energy from the instruments and the capoeiristas deftly manipulating them build the energy that swings you back and forth in the Jogo. You are taken away to a place where only you and the person you are exchanging with exist. The conversation grows and flows through this medium where none can lie. The expression of self through movement is one of the purest forms of truth. Capoeira reveals much about one’s character. A step here and a step there. The players flow in a circle that is really a microcosm of life. I have played with people I have never seen before that moment and instantly liked them. The same goes for the opposite. Capoeira is like that. Elusive and beautiful. Deadly and playful. Heavy and hot. It is the Game of Life. I made a decision on that day. I made a decision to Play. I made a decision to Swing in tune with the deep rhythms of Life. I made a decision to Sing and remember, to pay homage to my Ancestors with every movement. Every day I learn. Every day I grow. I was given the name Psicólogo Zulu. I walk through the Mindfields of Existence, a scholar-warrior, Listening and Playing. Swinging on the Spiral.

I made a decision that day that has brought me full circle. Our next batizado is at the end of February and I am at a point in my life where I feel like I have allowed distractions to creep into my life. So I have set up a plan for the next three months of strict training. Physical, mental, spiritual. I want to share these next three months of my life with you.

 

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